Just how far must an employer go to accommodate a person’s religious belief at work? Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Just how far must an employer go to accommodate someone’s religion at work? That’s a question being presented to the Supreme Court of the United States in Patterson v. Walgreens.
Darrell Patterson worked for the drugstore which promoted him to be a trainer of customer-care representatives. The company scheduled him to work on a Saturday, which interfered with his observance of the Sabbath as a Seventh Day Adventist. The company refused to let him swap shifts with a colleague working the same job, but offered to return him to his previous position, which Patterson argues would be a demotion. He refused and Walgreens fired Patterson.
The case explores whether a company must offer an accommodation to an employee if doing so will cause undue hardship. The current definition of “undue hardship” means something more than a “de minimis cost.” That’s a fancy way of saying that an undue hardship is trifling, minimal, or so insignificant that it can be ignored.
Patterson’s case has enormous potential to resolve a number of questions left unresolved by the lower courts. Employers and employees both benefit from such clarity. While employers should respect the religious conscience of its employees, the law does not require them to bend over backwards to do so. Still, employers should probably err on accommodating their employee’s religious beliefs more rather than less.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.